Since the beginning of the 20th century, labor unions have represented the collective interest of workers by bargaining to improve benefits, wages, and working conditions. The fight against asbestos remains a valiant, uphill struggle. Even short-term asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma. Long-term exposure can also drastically increase an individual’s risk of developing other severe illnesses.

In this article, we’ll cover union involvement in the fight against asbestos and how the O’Brien Law Firm is involved in union causes.

Pioneering Awareness of Asbestos Disease

The International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers, also known as the Asbestos Workers’ Union, played a significant role in raising awareness about occupational asbestos disease to the medical community. Asbestos insulators were one of the first job trades to experience a significant increase in mortality among its members, initially from fibrosis of the lung (now known as asbestosis) and then lung cancer and neoplasia of the pleura and abdominal tissues (recognized today as mesothelioma).

In 1965, Dr. Irving Selikoff of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York conducted a study involving 1,522 asbestos insulation workers in New York and New Jersey. The study, titled The occurrence of asbestosis among insulation workers in the United States and published in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, shared extremely alarming results.

Of the 392 individuals who were 20 years from the onset of exposure, 339 (86%) showed signs of asbestosis. What’s more, lung cancer was at least 7 times more common than expected, and there were 10 cases of mesothelioma found. This is an extraordinary finding in such a small cohort.

Dr. Selikoff continued to study insulation workers across North America and published more of his findings in 1979 and 1991. These now-famous studies went a long way in cementing the medical connection between asbestos exposure and lung cancer. Without the valuable cooperation of insulators, these groundbreaking studies would never have been possible.

Some of the Most Influential Unions

At the O’Brien Law Firm, unions hold a special place in our hearts. A large number of union members suffer from mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer, or asbestosis, and we are here to represent them in their fight for fair and just compensation.

Below are some of the unions our clients belong to.

International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers: HFIAW, founded in 1903, is a trade union in the United States and Canada. They represent nearly 30,000 craftsmen in a series of construction trades. The O’Brien Law Firm has a longstanding relationship with this union, having represented hundreds of its local members, many from Local 1 in St. Louis, Local 27 in Kansas City, Local 39 in Omaha, Nebraska, Local 90 in Memphis, TN, and many other locals throughout the Midwest.

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen: BLET, founded in 1863, has more than 51,500 members. They represent locomotive engineers, conductors, brakemen, firemen, switchmen, hostlers, and other train service employees on numerous railroads.

International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union: The Iron Workers Union, founded in the 1890s, has more than 120,000 members. Its members have worked on nearly every major construction project you can think of, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the Sears Tower, and the St. Louis Arch.

International Brotherhood of Boilermakers: The Boilermakers Union, founded in 1880, represents more than 50,000 skilled craftsmen and industrial workers who work in heavy industry, shipbuilding, manufacturing, railroads, cement, mining, and related industries.

International Longshoremen’s Association: ILA, founded in 1892, is the largest union of maritime workers in North America, representing upwards of 70,000 longshoremen on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Great Lakes, major US rivers, Puerto Rico, and Eastern Canada.

United Auto Workers: UAW, founded in 1935, is one of the largest and most diverse unions in North America, with more than 400,000 active members across virtually every sector of the economy.

United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers & Allied Workers: UURWAW, founded in 1919, represents members who apply all types of roofing and waterproofing systems.

Utility Workers Union of America: UWUA, founded in 1945, represents over 45,000 members employed in America’s utility sectors, including the electric, gas, water, and related professional and service industries.

Legal Assistance From the O’Brien Law Firm

Hardworking men, women, and families associated with labor trades are affected by asbestos disease every year. The O’Brien Law Firm provides legal assistance to many clients affiliated with labor unions. We’re proud of the strong relationships we have built with local unions, labor organizations, and their leadership.

We support:

  • auto workers,
  • boilermakers,
  • bricklayers,
  • carpenters,
  • electrical workers,
  • insulators,
  • ironworkers,
  • laborers,
  • operating engineers,
  • plumbers and pipe fitters,
  • sheet metal workers, and
  • sprinkle fitters.

Every year, we are at the state capital, fighting against proposed legislation that negatively affects their rights. We meet with and educate labor organizations, union retiree clubs, and politicians on issues. In addition to financially supporting causes, we also volunteer at union phone banks, knock on doors, and join union rallies.

Get Connected With an Experienced Attorney

At the O’Brien Law Firm, we take legal action to pursue all possible sources of compensation. Our experienced attorneys are here to help working people and their families who were seriously injured by the conduct of others.

You may be entitled to compensation. Call (314) 588-0558 or contact us online today for a FREE case evaluation.